“Fuck!” Bandido exclaimed as he removed his smelly cigar from his mouth and looked over at first, Chaos, then at me with an accusatory eye. “You’r waking her up,” and sighed, heading over to her, I assumed, to calm her down. Walking away, he said over his shoulder, “It’s our damn desert calling to again.”
I had awoken early this morning with my anxiety way up about 1) tomorrow would be the last day of my counseling career as we did our last equine-assisted psychotherapy day at our boys’ school. We had been taking the horses out to for some 14 years now and earning a good salary for doing it, and it that only involved being out there four days a month. My income was about to take a major nosedive! But, what Bandido was referring to was #2: about another trip out to the desert of Big Bend National Park, 1500 miles of driving one way, in the Chihauhuan Desert in far West Texas.
Those few that have read my two books, especially the Guru one, know, Bandido and his sidekick, Chaos, his dragon, are my Jungian Shadow complex. Bandido is the dragon keeper. His job is to keep Chaos calm and mainly sleeping. She’s the dragon that guards my inner-most sanctum, those repressed parts of myself that I’d rather not deal with or admit to. Although, at this late stage in my life her “treasure,” my stash of issues and repressions that she guards, is greatly diminished hopefully. Thank goodness. I’ll have more to say about these two in later posts on Shadow work and individuation.
Briefly though, Bandido is rude, crude, doesn’t miss words. He shoots straight to the point. He is not very civilized, so to speak. He is my alter ego. He’s the part of me that comes out when I’m pissed, anxious, or just irritated, for example. Stupid irritates me. And there was a lot of stupid running around the last four years. I like him. He takes after my heart. What’s this about the desert then?
The desert, or rather its wildness, calls to me in times of transition. I am now neck-deep in transition as I leave my old life in mental health counseling and aim to devote what lefts of it in these sunset years to discern and follow my calling, which is basically about writing and teaching to help others in their own spiritual and personal growth. To be clear, when I use the word “spiritual,” I define it as inner-peace and personal growth.
I have been in a series of personal transitions over the last several years. My first was back in 1998 when I was leaving academia and giving up my tenured professorship. Over the last recent years, I have felt the need and taken trips to the desert in 2015, 2017, and 2019. I have a biannual pattern going here. So a trip in 2021 would fit into that pattern. That’s not why I’m going, though. Rather, like I said, I am amid another major life transition, and that is calling me. I need to go out to spend some clarifying time out in the desert.
Now, this is more vision-quest type time. It’s intense, alone, and camping out in the desert; experiencing her directly and head-on. Experiencing her wildness! What do I mean by “desert wildness”?
Not that the desert is hostile. Rather, it is untamed; it is wild. It makes no accommodation for creature comfort. You have to meet it on its own terms, not yours, which can be very humbling, even dangerous and life threatening.
Nearly every time I’ve gone to the desert, it’s beat the shit out of me sooner or later, or at least given me a good run for my money. These are no fun holidays. It calls up deep spiritual and personal work: An examination of my life, where I am with it, and where I want to go with it from here.
So, if I decide to heed the desert’s call again, it will be an arduous journey. I drive so I can take my camping gear and this time my e-bicycle as I want to do some bicycling touring of the park and area. The latter relates to two book projects I have on my drawing board. It is a minimum of three hard days driving for me alone. A few days there, and three hard days driving back home. I have to plan the logistics carefully. The journey is exhausting.
Wish me well. Gassho